- The Washington Times - Friday, September 16, 2005

Melvyn Wilson is the kind of gambler who is the envy of the unlucky masses.

The 64-year-old Woodbridge, Va., resident has won Virginia Lottery scratch games three times during the past 10 months for a total of over $1.5 million.

“I guess you could call me lucky,” he said yesterday outside the Shirley Exxon station on Route 1 in Woodbridge, where he received a ceremonial check for the $1 million ticket he bought Sept. 9.

Besides winning the top prize in the state’s Million Dollar Madness game, he won $25,000 playing Cash Spectacular in March and $500,000 in the Casino Royale scratch game last November.

Mr. Wilson says he has no lucky charms or superstitions when playing the scratch games — except that he plays every day but Sunday and that he has a simple buying strategy.

“I stop by different places at different times and buy a few tickets,” he said. “You gotta play to win.”

The odds of winning the top prize in Million Dollar Madness are 1 in 1,040,400. They are 1 in 816,348 for winning Casino Royale and 1 in 520,200 for winning Cash Spectacular.

Mr. Wilson, who works for the U.S. Postal Service in Arlington, elected to receive his prize in annual payouts of $50,000 over 20 years. He paid off his home mortgage with previous winnings, and said plans for spending the $1 million include nothing extravagant.

“More than likely I’ll invest the majority of it,” he said. “Maybe I’ll take a vacation next year.”

Though Mr. Wilson’s son, Marcus, works as a U.S. Customs and Border Protection worker in Northern Virginia, Mr. Wilson called him his “financial adviser and accountant.”

However, the most sage advice Marcus Wilson has given his father so far is to “have some fun and not go too crazy.”

Mr. Wilson, 33, said he sees no point in gambling like his father.

“What are the chances I’m going to hit?,” he asked. “My dad’s hit three times, so I think my chances are pretty slim.”

Riaz Haq, owner of the Shirley Exxon station, said he knows Mr. Wilson from his many visits to purchase lottery tickets.

Mr. Haq, 52, said his station received no money from the state lottery for selling the winning ticket, but he hopes the publicity brings more customers.

“Maybe we’ll do better with the lottery business than with the gas business after this,” he said.

As Mr. Wilson accepted his check yesterday, the payout for the multistate Mega Millions game had reached $250 million — making it the fourth-largest jackpot in the history of the game. Mega Millions is played in Virginia and 11 other states.

Profits from the Virginia Lottery help fund public schools. Officials said the lottery earned more than $423 million for Virginia’s public schools in fiscal 2005.

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